Resilience and risk-taking; How Drama can positively foster both in our children.
Written by Jessica Pacecca for IntotheMask Theatre
Resilience, the buzz word of the hour.
Everyone is talking about building resilient children; kids who can cope with life’s difficulties and bounce back from hardships they will face as they grow older.
There is absolute worth in this and it’s enlightening to see it being discussed in open forums such as social media. But how exactly do we do this as parents/carers/educators?
Beyond Blue states that to help develop essential skills, habits and attitudes for building resilience in children we can:
Drama fosters all four of these key points by helping students explore their identities in a safe open environment. We work with the children through the process of self-reflection whilst providing them with a safe platform to build confidence, independence and take constant risks which in turn allows them to challenge themselves on a regular basis.
How do we do this safely and in a supportive way?
1. “Yes, and…” “Yes, lets…”
These common phrases in a Drama classroom foster creativity, allowing students to take ownership of their ideas and allow them to run with them, with the full support of the teacher and their peers. There is no judgement held on each idea just a million possibilities on where the idea can take us.
As humans, we constantly look at our choices and think, ‘Why did I do that?’ or ‘You could have done that so much better!’
In Drama, we look at our mistakes or failures in a positive light: ‘What did I do well even though it didn’t quite work?” “If I were to do the same thing again, how would I change things?”
This allows our students to understand that it’s okay to make mistakes as there is lots to learn from them. This is a key step in building resilience. We also encourage peers to give constructive feedback so children begin learning empathetic vocabulary when dealing with others.
3. Fostering creativity
Our children can fear being creative because they do not necessarily feel safe. They may not trust themselves or each other which in turn creates lack of confidence and therefore the great leap of risk taking doesn’t occur.
In Drama, we encourage them to take a step into the murky water, be uncomfortable and allow our students to just ‘be’. It is when they eliminate thinking that true magic happens and confidence in their abilities develop.
How can you as parents help continue this positive process?
Understand that Failure is the key to success; allow your children to take risks and talk about the risks in drama. Try to take a step back and allow your child to explore their own journey with you as a guide.
Encourage your child to ask, “What have I learned about what doesn’t work?” or “What have I discovered about myself or others around me?
Encourage play and manage failure or the moments where they feel uncomfortable, always be a supporter of the classes and help them understand why and how to learn from these perceived “failures”
Ask them who they connected with or worked with in drama this week. This eliminates the fear of rejection and judgment that leads to lack of confidence.
Play with your children, get silly with them. Help nurture their imagination and show them that courage comes in different forms.
Use language such as “Yes, and” instead of “Yes, but”
Allow your children to express their individuality and be who they are, after all drama will build skills for life.